The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the most popular cinematic universe of all time. It’s action-packed, hilarious, touching, and filled with an assortment of memorable, quirky, and beloved characters. The universe is still growing, too, with characters like She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany), Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), and Moon Knight (Oscar Isaac) all being introduced recently.
The world is not only full of heroes; it is also full of geniuses. People can build flying armor suits and turn almost everything they find into a bomb. The question remains, though, who is the smartest?
Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) is not an MCU genius in the traditional sense. He cannot build a suit designed to go toe-to-toe with The Hulk or invent shrinking particles. Instead, Fury’s genius can be found in his understanding of people and how to manipulate them to get what he wants.
After all, without the one-eyed spy, there probably wouldn’t even be a team of Avengers. A simple lie about Coulson’s Captain America trading cards being in his pocket at the time of his death was enough to inspire the team to work together. Uniting Earth’s mightiest heroes is one of the smartest moves anyone can make, so Fury deserves a spot.
Although he has made many mistakes in his short time as a superhero, there can be no questions regarding Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) incredible intellect. Despite only being a teenager, he has created his own webbing formula, the strength of which was enough to impress Tony Stark. Peter’s genius as a superhero leads to him being one of the smartest students at Midtown High School.
He excels in all his classes and is a valued member of the school’s decathlon team (when he manages to arrive for their competitions, anyway). Spider-Man still has a lot to learn, but it will be interesting to see how he copes without the help of his friends or fellow Avengers when the character returns to the big screen.
Dr. Abraham Erskine
Although he, unfortunately, did not live to see it, Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) changed the world in more ways than he could have ever expected. The super soldier serum not only gave Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) unbelievable strength but also the world’s greatest soldier of all time. Even more crucial than his development of the serum itself, however, was his faith in a skinny kid from Brooklyn.
Dr. Erskine knew that the values and beliefs of the recipient were equally important as the serum. The serum amplifies everything in the host, so Steve, a good man, would be made great with the serum. For giving us Captain America, the world thanks you, Dr. Erskine.
Many fans believe Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has always been a hero, even before she gained the power of Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder. It’s hard to summarize all of her achievements because there are so many, but she is the world’s leading astrophysicist, a globally known astronomer, the creator of the Foster theory, and a successful author, to name just a few.
Many of the scientific discoveries made by Jane have made the world a better, safer place and her heroic sacrifice also ensured the safety of the children of Asgard. If one thing is for certain, Jane Foster undoubtedly deserved her place in Valhalla.
In most universes, inventing a particle that allows the user to either shrink down to microscopic heights or grow to the size of a skyscraper would make you the most intelligent person in the world. In the MCU, that isn’t enough to put you in the top five.
Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) has achieved a lot in his lifetime. He built Pym Technologies into an incredibly successful company, created the Pym particle, and worked closely with SHIELD in the early days of the agencies’ existence. Odds are he’ll be equally impressive when he returns in the highly-anticipated first film of Phase Five, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) is a cybernetically enhanced raccoon with incredible intelligence and an even more incredible attitude. He is a key member of the Guardians of the Galaxycapable of fixing any problem their ship, the Milanencounters and able to turn just about anything into a weapon of mass destruction.
Across his four MCU appearances thus far, we’ve seen Rocket use a variety of spare parts to break out of a maximum security jail, take down an entire squad of Ravagers single-handedly, and play a pivotal role in the fight against Thanos (Josh Brolin). Not bad for a raccoon.
Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is as intelligent as the Hulk is strong. Over the years, Bruce has become a key member of The Avengers not only because he can transform into the Hulk but also because he can use his intellect to solve almost any problem the superhero team encounters.
Bruce played a key role in the creation of Ultron, which certainly wasn’t his finest moment but let’s be fair, creating artificial intelligence with aspirations of world domination is no walk in the park. Beyond that, though, Bruce helped the team develop time travel, finally allowing the team to defeat Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. The real question is, will his son Scaar share his father’s unbelievable intellect?
Without Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), no MCU would exist. It’s hard to quantify just how important the witty billionaire is to the universe or explain how many times his genius has saved the world. Of course, a lot of the time, the world only needed saving because of Tony’s arrogance and ego, but we won’t go into that.
Across his decade in the MCU, Tony built an army on Iron Man suits, created and then destroyed Ultron (James Spader), traveled to Space, fought Thanos, invented time travel, fought Thanos again, and ultimately sacrificed himself to finally kill the Mad Titan once and for all. We could write all day about the genius of Tony Stark, but we simply don’t have time. Let’s say that Riri Williams, set to be introduced in Black Panther: Wakanda Foreverhas big shoes to fill.
Vision (Paul Bettany) is easily one of the smartest characters in the MCU for the simple reason that he was built to be one of the smartest beings in the universe. When he was created, Tony and Bruce infused Vision with an array of collective consciences, including their own, that of Jarvis, that of Ultron, and the Mind Stone.
He may not have been a human, but Vision understands humanity and the complexities of grief. Watching him comfort Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) after her brother’s death was incredibly moving, and perhaps this understanding makes him so intelligent. Unfortunately, it’s so far unclear whether White Vision will share the same sentiment when he returns to the upcoming series Vision Quest.
Shuri (Letitia Wright) is the most brilliant mind in the most technologically advanced nation in the world. There’s seemingly nothing she can’t create with vibranium. In Black Panther alone, we saw her make a suit capable of absorbing energy and releasing it at any given moment, save Everett Ross’ (Martin Freeman) life by removing the bullet that would otherwise have killed or paralyzed him, and invent a flight simulator used by Ross to stop Kilmonger’s jets escaping.
Following that, and perhaps most impressively, Shuri was able to find a way to theoretically remove the mind stone from Vision’s head without killing the android, something that even Bruce couldn’t figure out. Shuri will next be seen in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, in which she is expected to take up a more significant role in the nation following the tragic death of her brother. Although it will undoubtedly be a somber affair, we can’t wait to see what the genius invents next.
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